Chess: Hurried Hodgson loses out to Speelman

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The Independent Culture
THE MOST difficult positions to play are those where you have a very slight disadvantage against a very strong opponent. It is easy to lose everything in a dash for equality. That is particularly true when playing Jonathan Speelman, whose perpetual look of bemused tranquillity can make a slight advantage seem even more negligible.

In the following game, from the British Isles Zonal tournament in Dublin, Speelman obtained very little from the opening against the British champion, Julian Hodgson. Manoeuvring his white-squared bishop carefully, first to g4 then via d1 to b3, he managed to keep some pressure after central exchanges had led to a stagnant- looking position.

But with 27 . . . Rc1, Hodgson dashes for the draw with an exchange of rooks. Instead 27 . . . Rc7 would have preserved his position. Perhaps, he overlooked 29. Qc6 with its double threat of Qxc1 and Qxg6+, though even after this, White's task was not easy. Speelman's 32. h4] is a very fine move. Instead 32. Qxh5 Qf6, followed by Bd4, would have ceded the initiative to Black. By fixing the pawn on h5, White holds all his advantages.

Black's final moves suggest bad time-trouble. Playing Bd4, Qa7 and Bxf2, he commits suicide. In the king and pawn ending, White wins with g4, h5, then bringing the king to d5 and taking the e-pawn.

----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Speelman Black: Hodgson ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 Nf3 Nf6 21 Qb5 Rad8 2 c4 c6 22 Bb3 Nd4 3 Nc3 d5 23 Bxd4 Rxd4 4 e3 g6 24 Bd5 Bg5 5 d4 Bg7 25 Rcd1 Rxd1 6 Be2 0-0 26 Rxd1 Rc8 7 0-0 dxc4 27 Bb3 Rc1 8 Bxc4 Bg4 28 Rxc1 Bxc1 9 Be2 Nbd7 29 Qc6 Bxb2 10 e4 Bxf3 30 Qxg6+ Kf8 11 Bxf3 e5 31 Qh6+ Kg8 12 d5 cxd5 32 h4 Bd4 13 Nxd5 Nc5 33 a4 a6 14 Be3 Ne6 34 Kg2 b5 15 Nxf6+ Bxf6 35 a5 Qa7 16 Qb3 Qe7 36 Qxh5 Bxf2 17 Bg4 Nf4 37 Qxf7+ Qxf7 18 Rac1 b6 38 Bxf7+ Kxf7 19 g3 h5 39 Kxf2 1-0 20 Bd1 Ne6 ----------------------------------------------------------------- With one round left to play in the Zonal, Speelman shared the lead with Michael Adams, on 8 out of 10. They are followed by Jonathan Levitt, 71 2 and Keith Arkell 7. Here is the game: ----------------------------------------------------------------- White: Dharshan Kumaran Black: Tony Miles ----------------------------------------------------------------- 1 d4 Nc6 9 Ne5 Nxe5 2 Nf3 d5 10 Qxa7 c6 3 g3 Bg4 11 Bf4 Bd6 4 Bg2 Qd7 12 Qa8+ Kc7 5 c4 e6 13 Nb5+ Kb6 6 0-0 0-0-0 14 Qa7+ Kxb5 7 Nc3 dxc4 15 a4+ 1-0 8 Qa4 Bb4 -----------------------------------------------------------------